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  • July 26, 2011

Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season 2011: Executive Summary

Email marketing is becoming increasingly vital to holiday success. Last year, the top online retailers boosted their year-over-year email volume 21% in November and December, with spikes coinciding with several record-breaking ecommerce days, including Cyber Monday and Thanksgiving Day.

Because of email’s ability to engage customers with relevant messaging at the right time, our retail client data shows that open rates and clickthrough rates hold steady during the holidays, despite the added volume, and that click-to-conversion rates increase significantly. There are positive signs that the 2011 holiday season will be another banner year for email marketing.

“Our retail client data shows that 2011 open rates are up 23% over last year and click-to-open rates are up 11%,” says Ed Henrich, Senior Vice President of Professional Services at Responsys. “This is a good sign that the 2011 holiday season could be very strong.”

However, challenges and opportunities have arisen that will require marketers to adjust their holiday email strategies. The emergence of “Black November,” the continued growth in mobile email readership, and increasing cross-channel sophistication will all have a major effect on campaigns this holiday season, when email volume is on track to reach new all-time highs.

To help retailers and other B2C companies navigate these changes, we have produced this roadmap to the holiday season. Based on the holiday email activity of the more than 100 top U.S. online retailers tracked by the Retail Email Blog and on the insights of Responsys’ Strategic Services group, this guide includes benchmarks and advice regarding the timing of holiday campaigns, how much to increase email volume, which days to send on, how to stand out in the inbox, and which messaging tactics to use throughout the holiday season.

We also cover the following points:

● Retailers are trying to attract shoppers earlier in the holiday season by promoting “Black Friday” deals and pricing as early as Nov. 1, a trend we refer to as “Black November.” As a result, last year the number of references to Black Friday between Nov. 1 and Black Friday increased 68% from 2009.

● Cyber Monday is living up to its hype as the “the biggest online shopping day of the year,” with online sales breaking the $1 billion mark for the first time that day last year. Email marketing is a prime contributor to that success, with 77% of major online retailers sending at least one promotional email to their subscribers on Cyber Monday, up from 71% in 2009. It was the fourth consecutive year that Cyber Monday was the most popular day of the year to send retail emails.

● Black Friday check-in campaigns and last-minute gifts delivered via Facebook were both nascent trends last year that we expect to grow this year.

● This guide also identifies and provides examples of the “22 Phases of Holiday Messaging,” a variety of tactics that retailers have at their disposal at various points during the holiday season. Those tactics include “12 Days of Christmas” campaigns, season’s greetings, and urging gift card redemptions.

Get the Full Report
>>Download the 51-page “Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season 2011” from Responsys’ Downloads page for free.

Other reports available from Responsys:
Email Design Look Book 2011
Email Design & Coding Recommendations
Retail Email Year-End Trends for 2010
Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2010
SWYN, FTAF & Community Links
…and you can find even more reports on Responsys’s Downloads page.
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BROWSE... Archive / Post Categories / Selling Seasons / Topics Covered / Retailers Tracked

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